Road to Biraghi Den – Two Years Ago
It’s a quiet day in the Serendia Territory. The sun is shining brightly, the birds flying high above the clouds. It’s a perfect day for a picnic. Nothing could ruin this day.
By the distance, if one is flying above the clouds, one can see that there’s a cloud of dust building up among the trees. On the ground, just by the main road, there’s a fox walking across the road, then its ears twitched. By the distance, the fox sees an incoming cloud of dust and a grumbling sound. The ground shakes as the fox quickly fled.
A few seconds later, the grumbling sound turns out to be the sound of a lot of horses galloping. It’s the Calpheonian Cavalry of the 1st Legion, led by Crisostomo Ibarra himself.
Crisostomo looks serious, he doesn’t look composed unlike earlier.
I hope I’m not too late, Crisostomo thought.
By the distance, Crisostomo sees bodies lying on the ground.
As they get closer to the dead bodies, Crisostomo recognizes two Shais lying on the ground, one Shai is wearing a rugged farmer’s clothes and has an arrow stuck in his lower back, trying to reach the other Shai wearing a cook’s clothes, both are covered in blood. This made Crisostomo took a deep breath. A few seconds later, the cavalry stops and sees all the dead bodies being eaten by the crows.
“Secure the perimeter! Now!” Crisostomo shouted.
He then dismounts and walks towards the Shais.
I don’t see Lorrelle’s body, Crisostomo thought, high chance that they kidnapped her.
“Get me a medic!”
The Shai hit with an arrow looks to his side and saw Crisostomo. The Shai is indeed Marco.
“Hey there, old friend…,” Marco said slowly, “it’s good… to see you again…”
Crisostomo kneels, “I’m sorry, Marco… I-”
“You’ve grown old… you big oaf. We all are…”
Crisostomo is surprised, then smiles softly, “Yeah, we’re getting old…”
Crisostomo looks behind him, “Where is that bloody medic!”
“Don’t bother… I don’t have much time now…” Marco smiles, “Sir Ibarra… please… save Lorrelle… take care of her… for me and Mary both. I’ll be entrusting her to you.”
“Don’t worry, leave the rest to me.”
“One last thing… can you please help me move closer to Mary?”
“I… of course.”
Crisostomo moves Marco closer to Mary, still lying down on his belly. Crisostomo knew if he removes the arrow Marco will die quickly because of blood loss. Marco is almost on his last breath.
Marco then reaches for Mary’s lifeless hand and hold it tightly.
Marco smiles, “Remember… the old days? When we’re still starting out… in the military? We were always fighting…”
“Yes… you said you don’t care if I’m nobility or not.”
“And you said it doesn’t matter if you’re nobility or not,” Marco laugh, “I was a fool… to think you’re like any other nobility.”
“We’ve been through thick and thin, old friend…”
“Yes… yes, we have,” Marco then looks at Mary, “Mary… I love you… I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you… please… forgive me.”
Marco then sighs, “I’ve lived a peaceful life… it has been a blessing to have met you all…”
With Marco’s last breath, he is now motionless and his eyes lifeless.
Crisostomo closes Marco’s eyes, “Rest now, my friend, don’t worry, leave the rest to me.”
One of Crisostomo’s soldiers approaches him, “Sir, there’s one survivor but badly injured bandit!”
Crisostomo stands up. He then walks towards badly injured bandit being restrained by two soldiers.
“Throw him to the ground.”
The soldiers did so.
Crisostomo steps hard on the bandit’s head, “Where’s the little girl?”
The bandit remains quiet. This irritated Crisostomo and steps harder.
“Where. Is. The. Girl.”
Still no word. Crisostomo then stops stepping on the bandit’s head then quickly punched the bandit on his back, making the bandit cry out in pain and spit blood. The soldiers standing beside the bandit are just standing in place, daring not to look down.
Crisostomo holds the bandit on his neck with both hands and forces him to stand up.
Crisostomo then tightens his grip, choking the bandit. This made the bandit try to struggle his way out of Crisostomo’s grip but with no avail.
“No, please… mercy…!”
“In our camp! Biraghi Den!” The bandit cried out, “Please! Mercy!”
Crisostomo’s eyes are filled with rage and the ground trembles as he tightens his grip more. The soldiers beside the bandit are trembling in fear as to what is happening near them. All they did is stand at attention and only looking straight ahead.
Crisostomo snaps the bandit’s neck, but hasn’t let go, instead just tightens his grip more as he looks at the bandit’s lifeless face with rage.
A few seconds later, Crisostomo finally let’s go and unsheathes his greatsword. He lifts his greatsword then mercilessly stabs the bandit on the back. Stabbing the bandit three… four times then stops with his greatsword passing through the bandit and into the ground.
The cavalry captain approaches Crisostomo, “Sir! Perimeter secured and we’ve found the entrance to Biraghi Den!”
Crisostomo slowly looks at the captain, with greatsword still piecing the bandit, “Leave no survivors. I don’t want to see even one bandit left standing!”
“Captain, wait,” Crisostomo said then stands up.
The captain stood still then does an about-face.
“Tell me, captain,” Crisostomo starts walking towards the captain, “why did you sign up to the military? Why sign up specifically to my legion? Is it for money or for fame?”
“It’s just a simple question, captain,” Crisostomo is now towering over the captain, “why did you sign up to my legion?”
“I want to serve my country… sir. I want to protect those who are important to me.”
Crisostomo raises his right eyebrow.
The captain stammers, “Th-that is all… sir…”
“Good answer,” Crisostomo puts his right hand on the captain’s left shoulder, “As of now, you are my second-in-command.”
Crisostomo then points at the captain, “I’ll be expecting great things from you… Commander.”
Crisostomo turns around to look at his greatsword still stuck on the bandit and starts walking towards it. The two soldiers from earlier are struggling in pulling out the greatsword. They then saw Crisostomo walking towards them and stop what they’re doing to stand still at the side.
Crisostomo approaches his greatsword then pulls it out like it’s nothing for him. The two soldiers are both amazed and afraid at the same time with what they saw.
“Move the Shais’ bodies out of here, back to Calpheon.” Crisostomo said to the two soldiers, “I want to give them a proper Calpheonian funeral.”
The two soldiers nod then run off to do as they’re told. Crisostomo then faces the rest of the soldiers, “We’re moving out!”
At the crossroads where the three Shais along with a caravan of traders with Calpheonian soldiers were ambushed. Only three soldiers remain, one of them is the captain from earlier. The rest of the soldiers and traders are either dead or captured for ransom.
The three are all sitting by the side of the road with their backs resting at the broken-down wagon.
One of the soldiers saw movement by the distance and immediately hits the captain with his right elbow.
“Sir, sir,” the soldier then points forward, “movement up ahead.”
“Bandits?” another soldier said.
“No, you fool,” the captain interjects, “it’s… reinforcements? better late than never.”
A few seconds later, Crisostomo and the Calpheonian cavalry came into view. Just as quickly, the captain trembles in fear.
“Oh, no… we’re screwed… we’re screwed big time…”
“Why, sir? Who are they?”
The captain slowly looks at the soldiers, “Look at the banner and who is leading them…”
The soldiers did so and they all tremble in fear as well as they see the banner of the 1st Legion and Crisostomo Ibarra leading them.
“Lord Elion have mercy on us…” one of the soldiers said.
“We should’ve died fighting…” the other soldier said.
“Come, lads,” the captain stands up, “We might as well die standing.”
The two soldiers stand up as well and the three started walking a few feet away from the broken wagon then stands still. The captain is standing between the two soldiers.
They stand still in attention then salutes with their right fist resting on the left part of their chest armour where the heart is located. The two soldiers are now trembling as they see Crisostomo and his men arrive on horseback.
“Lord Elion have mercy…” The soldiers murmur.
“Quiet, fools!” The captain whispers, “You want to be killed where you stand?”
Crisostomo dismounts and walks towards the trio while the rest of his men gets in position in front of the entrance of Biraghi Den.
“Commander Ibarra, we’re glad you’re-”
“I have no time for formalities, captain, report to me what happened.”
The captain stammers, “S-sir… we were escorting a caravan of traders when suddenly we were ambushed by bandits from Biraghi Den.”
Crisostomo just stands in front of the three, staring at the captain in silence.
The captain gulps, “Then… suddenly… three Shais were caught in the ambush as well… I have two of my men accompany them to Delphe Knights Castle to call for help. Seeing as you and your men are here, I think they’ve done a great job… sir…”
Crisostomo closes his eyes then lowers his head, “Yes… they did a great job…”
“Your orders, sir?”
“Go to Delphe Knights Castle and rest-”
“Sir!” the captain interrupts, “With all due respect, sir, some of my men and traders are captured by the bandits… we can still fight! We want to help and rescue them.”
Crisostomo smiles for the first time since this whole ordeal, “I like your tenacity, captain. Fine, let’s get our men out of there. Let’s save them.”
Hang On A Little Longer
Atop of Biraghi Den is a large fort that is now home of the bandits. The path to the top is filled with traps and bandits hiding by the bushes, they’re getting ready for an assault. They knew that the Calpheonians are going to attack, and now they’re bracing for an assault.
Way up at Biraghi Den, at the fort, is Lorrelle lying on the floor right next to a stash of treasures that the bandits have gathered.
Lorrelle is crying as she calls out her parents.
“Shut up, you!” The bandit in front of Lorrelle shouted, “I don’t know what’s special about you that the lieutenant wants to have you up for ransom, but you must well behave or I’ll teach you a lesson or two!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Lorrelle said repeatedly as she reaches for her knees and changed to a fetal position.
Help me… please… anybody… Lorrelle thought.
Back at the base of Biraghi Den just by the main road, Crisostomo Ibarra is standing by the entrance to Biraghi Den. His men behind him are at formation just waiting for Crisostomo’s order to attack.
“Don’t worry, Lorrelle,” Crisostomo said under breath, “I’m coming to save you. Just hold on a little longer.”
Just Ibarra… who wants to play video games even though he has an 8-to-5 day job…